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Klamath should help create a coalition against KBRA

 by TOM MALLAMS Guest Writer, Herald and News 6/20/10
     Klamath County commissioners have been given the opportunity to wake up to the reality staring them in the face. The voters have spoken and our commissioners appear to be content on spinning their position on the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement and dam removal.

   They claim to be against dam removal, but I seem to remember an extravagant celebration-type signing ceremony with the celebrity photo ops Feb. 18 in Salem when our county commissioners signed both the dam removal and Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement. Why sign a document they claim not to agree with?

   Election results make it clear

   No longer can they claim to have public support in this. The election results are not just about voters rejecting the KBRA and dam removal. It is more about rejecting the trend of local, state and national politicians refusing to lead the assault against political corruption, extortion, outright misuse of our hard-earned tax dollars, ignoring accountability and public opinion on key issues.  

   Not only are they continuing to ignore the public, they also continue to ignore their own Klamath County legal counsel, Dan Bunch, who informed commissioners in a June 19, 2008, letter, “The Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement is a dam removal agreement whose signers agree to support and advocate for dam removal. While this point is obvious, I raise it because I have heard people express general support for the agreement but not for dam removal. If you do not support dam removal, this is the wrong agreement to sign. I see no way around this basic   point.” This is the commissioners’ legal counsel’s advice. The current document still requires this.

   I realize in today’s world, many politicians seem to openly ignore common sense as if their own intelligence supersedes all logic and normal thought process. Apparently, we the public, do not understand the complexities that they have mastered. And, by the way, how dare we question them?

   Irrigated agriculture next target

   The timber industry was destroyed by the spotted owl farce, and irrigated agricultural is next in their sights. Our agricultural base cannot survive the neverending legalized blackmail.

   Our local communities have to stand united in this continuing battle. The KBRA and dam removal are designed to divide and conquer our citizens. A few Klamath Reclamation Project leaders and others have encouraged this division in the irrigation community. A typical slap in the face remark came from one of our county commissioners in an April 11 Herald and News article when she stated, “The upper Basin people will not have water shut off.” This type of remark fuels bad blood between upper and lower Basin   irrigators. Are we supposed to let our fields go dry because of where we farm and ranch?

   Actually, in 2001, a group of our off-Project irrigators did offer to idle irrigated ground without any monetary compensation   to let the water be used in the Project. We were told “don’t bother.” That feeling of wanting to offer help to our fellow irrigators is harder to find in the upper Basin in today’s climate of division. This needs to change. We supported Project irrigators 100 percent in 2001.

   A truly equitable Basin-wide settlement is the desired end result. The current KBRA and dam removal does not come remotely close to achieving this.

   What is the alternative?

   As the Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Conner said, adjudication gives a solid base to build a settlement around. Yes, in adjudication there will be some winners and losers. Much of this was pre-determined when people made the business decision to buy land in the Project or off-Project area, some with junior water rights or claims.  

   Listen to your constituents

   In the current KBRA and dam removal direction, the winner and loser list is determined by race and who can make the best secret backroom deals, stabbing your neighbor in the back and making the taxpayer and ratepayer pay the ultimate price.

   County commissioners: Listen to your constituents, reject these documents, encourage completion of our state water rights adjudication and unite with Siskiyou County in opposing these horribly flawed documents.

   Visit with Jackson and Modoc counties to gain their added opposition. This will create a contiguous four-county base of opposition that will have an undeniable influence on the direction of our federal government. These four counties are key to these agreements.

   County commissioners, please do not continue to ignore your citizens.  

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